Will castrating my alpacas stop them fighting?

Updated: Apr 30

Male alpacas can be boisterous with one another, which can sometimes lead to exhaustion, stress and injury. Therefore, it is usual practice to castrate (remove the testacles from) male alpacas that will not be used for matin to help even their overzealous behaviour. Castrated alpacas are known as gedlings.

Signs that alpacas have been fighting

  • Spitty mouth (see the next paragraph)

  • Cuts or bleeding

  • ‘Screaming’ behaviour

  • Stiffness

  • Reluctance/unease at being together as a group

My alpaca’s mouth has dropped - has my alpaca had a stroke?!

That is usually the first question that springs to a newbie alpaca keeper’s mind when they see what is often referred to as ‘spitty mouth’. This occurs following a fight or disagreement that has gotten a bit out of hand - it is a mechanism to stop the alpacas over-spitting at one another.

Will castrating my alpacas stop them fighting?

In theory, yes - but this is not guaranteed to work for every alpaca. It will take a few months for the hormones to completely work their way out of the system, so it may take a while before you see the true effects of the castration. If you find that your alpacas have still not calmed down and reduced fighting behaviour after 6 months, you may just have alpacas that don’t get on and may need to reassess your housing and grouping arrangements.

Other things you can do to reduce fighting behaviour in your alpacas

  • DO NOT house males & females together (with the exception of cria up to 6 months of age)

  • Keep males & females out of sight and earshot of one another

  • Ensure there is ample trough/feeding room

  • Ensure ample amounts of hayracks are provided

  • Ensure there is ample shelter space

  • Give them more room/options if they want to get away from one another

  • Do not put young males in with fully grown, intact males, as the older males may bully and exhaust the young alpaca

At what age should my alpacas be castrated?

Alpacas are usually castrated between 12 - 18 months of age. This ensures that they are fully grown before the procedure and their growth and development will not be impacted.

Males are not usually effective until they are around 3 years old, when the penis has become fully detached from the prepuce (foreskin). However, this can sometimes occur sooner; therefore, young males should be separated from females when they reach 10 months of age to prevent accidental pregnancies.

What time of year should castration of alpacas occur?

Castration should take place in spring or autumn, when the flies are not going to be an issue (which could lead to flystrike), andthe weather is not too harsh to aid with recovery if the male is left feeling sorry for himself afterwards.

How is castration carried out in alpacas?

Castration in alpacas can be carried out whilst your alpaca is standing (provided that they are quiet and easily handled). Local anaesthetic is applied to the area by the vet, who then shaves the area if required and sterilises the area with antimicrobial wash and iodine. Two small incisions (of around 2cm each) are made to release and discard the testicles. The incisions are usually left often so the wound can drain and heal. Antiseptic spray, such as Teramycin, is applied to prevent any infection.

Alternatively, full sedation may be an option if your alpaca cannot be calmly handled. Stitching of the site wound after the procedure is also an option.

How much does it cost to castrate alpacas?

The price of alpaca castration will vary from vet to vet and will depend on whether you need part or full sedation, whether it is done in house or at your small holding/farm and how many alpacas you need castrating on the same day. Therefore, it is best to contact your vet for an estimate. However, we can reassure you that it is typically not an expensive procedure and should fall under large/farm animal (rather than pet) pricing.

Other factors to consider

Food needs to be withheld for at least 12 hours prior to the castration procedure to allow for heavy or general anaesthesia, if needed.

It is often recommended to keep the freshly castrated alpacas in a small pen or holding area for 24 hours to monitor their health and observe any side effects from the procedure, such as bleeding or swelling of the surgery site, difficulty with urination, fly activity or anything that would be deemed as unusual behaviour.

Disclaimer: We are not a veterinarian body. Please consult your vet to discuss the best options for your herd.

Click here to discover more about us and our alpaca family. You can also stay with our herd at Hush Hush Glamping – click here to find out more!

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